University releases statement following petition to make NU a ‘sanctuary’ for undocumented people

Peter Kotecki, Campus Editor

Northwestern released a statement Friday saying NU is “strongly committed” to being a welcoming and inclusive place, a few days after thousands signed a petition asking the University to become a “sanctuary” for undocumented students, workers and their families.

The petition, which began Monday morning, asks University President Morton Schapiro and other administrators to declare NU a “sanctuary campus” in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. Sanctuaries do not alert federal authorities about individuals who violate immigration laws. The petition was closed Thursday night with 2,234 signatures from faculty, staff, students and alumni, said English Prof. John Alba Cutler, who started the petition, in an email to The Daily.

Friday’s statement — signed by Schapiro, Provost Dan Linzer, vice president for student affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president and general counsel Philip Harris and Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah — said the University’s commitment to inclusivity has not changed as a result of the presidential election.

NU will keep providing full financial aid to undergraduates who graduate from high schools in the United States, regardless of the their citizenship status, the statement said. As in the past, the statement said, University Police will not question anyone it stops about their citizenship.NU takes the petition signatories’ concerns seriously, the statement said, and the University will continue to provide support for all members of its community.

“We hope all members of the Northwestern community will join us in our efforts to make the University a safe and welcoming environment,” the statement said.

The petition, which was also published as an open letter in The Daily, references Trump’s plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which was passed by President Barack Obama and temporarily shields undocumented people who were brought into the United States as children from being deported. It also references comments Trump made about his intention to immediately start deportation proceedings against millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.

Although it’s too early to know what may happen, the statement said, the University is “following closely” any changes to visa programs and the DACA program, which may affect students, faculty and staff.

“Northwestern today is a diverse place, with students, faculty and staff from many different countries and many different backgrounds,” the statement said. “The result is a vibrant intellectual and social community that includes people with widely divergent beliefs and ideas. We’re proud of that — it’s one of the things that makes Northwestern such a special place. We are determined to keep it so.”

A previous version of this story misstated who can be temporarily shielded by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. DACA recipients are undocumented people who entered the United States as children. The Daily regrets the error.

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